|Listen to the Bible|
Thoughts and Commentary on today's reading:Today, I'm going to focus my personal commentary on the reading from Luke 10 - specifically the portion found in Luke 10:30-36, which is the parable of the Good Samaritan.
Of course we know the story of the Good Samaritan. It is a parable that our Saviour told to illustrate the importance of demonstrating love for others. But there is so much more to it. And, when we look at some of the deeper significance of this parable, we will find a greater ability to appreciate the full measure of truths found in this amazing story.
To begin, we need to know who the Samaritans were and why the Jews hated them so much (not that God's people should ever hate anyone, of course). Scripture tells us the amazing backstory behind the parable - one which every Jew listening to His story would surely have known.
Israel's idolatry caused God to judge them. He had warned them to turn from the evil ways. But the prophets were ignored. Now, God said that He would take the northern 10 tribes of Israel from their land, leaving only the tribe of Judah (which included some from Benjamin) in the land of Israel.
Until this displacement, when God used the heathen king of Assyria to execute this judgment upon idolatrous Israel, Samaria had been the Israel's capital city. But, when the invasion took place, the people of Israel from the northern 10 tribes were attacked and carried away captive by the Assyrian invaders. But they weren't done having just carried Israel away captive. The Assyrians then brought in their own people and repopulated the land which had once been Israel's! The city of Samaria was occupied by Assyrians!
2 Kings 17:18 "Therefore the LORD was very angry with Israel, and removed them out of His Sight: there was none left but the tribe of Judah only."
2 Kings 17:23-24 "...The LORD removed Israel out of His Sight, as He had said by all His servants the prophets. So was Israel carried away out of their own land to Assyria unto this day. And the king of Assyria brought men from Babylon, and from Cuthah, and from Ava, and from Hamath, and from Sepharvaim, and placed them in the cities of Samaria instead of the children of Israel: and they possessed Samaria, and dwelt in the cities thereof."
Considering this backstory, it makes the Bible story of the Good Samaritan come alive with living color. The hatred of the Jews for these Assyrian occupiers was deep and bitter. It's even quite understandable, considering that any heart would naturally resent people who had done similar things. But God doesn't want His people to respond to situations or people in the way that comes naturally to us. Bitterness has no place in the hearts of God's people.
Now, let's put this story back into this setting and examine it for the deeper message, which is now made visible. Consider this, which is easier? Is it easier to go through the motions of reaching out and stiffly ministering to the needs of one's arch enemy? Or is it easier to be the one who needs help and have to receive that help at the hands of one's (believed) arch enemy? Truly, in such a scenario, receiving the help is far more difficult. For in the process one must abase personal pride and one must consider that perhaps there is something good in this hated one after all.
This is the concept of Christ's parable. But He doesn't even stop there... The Saviour added a priest and Levite to the story. The priest and Levite are respected church leaders. In modern terms, they represent one's most respected pastor, theologian, or religious leaders. These, supposedly holy men, refused to help the fallen Jew. But a Samaritan - one who was descended from the Assyrian overlords, who now lived in the former Israelite homes - was the one Christ chose to be the benefactor - the hero - of His parable! Wow! The lessons from the story are deep and rich, and it only by the indwelling Grace of God that we can implement these Heavenly principles in our lives. What are the principles?
1) Love your enemies! (Much harder than it sounds, as is demonstrated in the story). If you just love the people who love you in return, you are following the carnal heart.
2) Be a neighbor (ministering love) towards all who need it, not just those who deserve it.
3) Belonging to God isn't about theology and having all the Bible knowledge in the world (remember the priest and Levite in the story). Belonging to God is about treating people the way He treats people.
Prayerful thought for today: Dear Heavenly Father, please grow my ability to love others. Please deliver me from bitterness, pride, and prejudice. Help me to love even my enemies. (Pray for your enemies at this point in the prayer). Father, help me to love others as deeply as the Samaritan in the story. Help me to love others like You love them, even when they don't deserve it."
Matthew 5:43-48 "Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in Heaven: for He maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? Do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? Do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in Heaven is perfect."